Your startup idea is like your child, not only do you want it to mature in the best possible manner, in your mind you always worry about its security.
It is obviously difficult to see your idea being stolen by someone you shared it with and being presented in the market before you could. By the below steps you can surely put an end to your worries about your idea being stolen.
Too much Information – While it is likely that you would want to tell people about your startup, avoid giving away too many details and information. Even when you are pictching for your idea initially, give only details that are necessary. There is no need to get into the details of your algorithms.
Non-Disclosure Aggrement– While NDAs seemingly are a good option, but sadly a lot of people will not agree to sign an NDA before listening to your idea. You can also consider placing a confidentiality clause in your business plan.
Provisional Patents– As an interim measure you can apply for a provisional patent that has a life of about an year and expires after that. This costs less and acts as a substitute for full fleged patent.
Know the Recepient– Whenever you are thinking of letting a potential customer, investor, contractor, co-founder know about you idea make sure that you are well aware or the person / company reputation. Look out for disputes, that they may have with previous partners.
Trademarks– Establishing a trademark gives an additional level of security to your idea, in the event of a legal issue. When you file for a trademark the documentation required can automatically become a proof of the fact that your idea was being worked upon at that particular time.
More than all of these follow your own instincts, when a person is getting in too many details, determine what is the objective behind that. Not a hard and fast rule though but the chances of a new comer stealing an idea is far more than a established enterprenueur who has experince of decades.
Having said all this, it is very important that we don’t start living in the fear that our idea will be stolen, for this will drift you from where all your foucs should be.